In a huge embarrassment to the NDA government, a united Opposition on Tuesday managed to get an amendment to the President’s address passed by the Rajya Sabha, underlining the government’s vulnerability in the House where it is in a minority.
The amendment, moved by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, mentioned the government’s “failure” in curbing corruption and bringing back black money.
It was only the fourth time in Rajya Sabha’s history — the last being in 2001 — that an amendment moved by the Opposition was carried. Out of 175 members present in the House, 118 voted in favour of amendment and 57 opposed it. The government’s failure to muster the numbers in its favour also put a question mark on the fate of four contentious ordinances, including on coal and insurance, that the government intends to replace with bills and get Parliament’s approval.
Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu tried to convince Yechury to withdraw the amendment, but the CPI(M) leader refused to relent, saying, “I would have normally accepted such a request, but the government left no choice.” He also objected to the PM leaving the House soon after his hour-long reply.
The opposition parties had met in the morning to plan a coordinated strategy to embarrass the government, which has been planning to overcome its numerical weakness in the Upper House and push through contentious bills through a joint session of Parliament.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, Yehcury, Trinamool’s Derek O’Brian, BSP leader Mayawati, SP’s Ramgopal Yadav and JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav had met in the meeting to decide on a united offensive.
Ahead of voting on the amendment, said sources, the SP seemed to be dithering with one SP leader arguing against voting on the amendment as it was not the practice, but the SP fell in line as other parties stood united. Even the BJD, which has not voted against the NDA regime so far, joined the opposition to vote for the amendment today.
“Parliamentary democracy of ours has a mechanism to deliver strong messages to the government. Today the united Opposition just did that,” said Derek O’Brian.
The amendment conveyed “regret that there is no mention in the address about the failure of the government to curb the high-level corruption and to bring back black money”.